The 1995 World Series pitted strength against strength. The juggernaut Tribe offense against the future Hall of Fame troika in the Atlanta Braves rotation.
And again, historical tradition really put the Cleveland Indians at a disadvantage. The Tribe had finished the season as the better team, winning ten more games than the Braves. But during this era, home field went to National League because it was an odd-numbered year.
October 21, 1995; Atlanta Fulton County Stadium; Braves 3, Indians 2
As Dennis Martinez had started the finale against the Mariners, manager Mike Hargrove went with veteran Orel Hershiser in the opener to face off against Greg Maddux. Things started well as shortstop Rafael Belliard misplayed Kenny Lofton's grounder. Omar Vizquel struck out but Lofton stole second. Then on a 1-0 pitch, Lofton also swiped third. Carlos Baerga grounded to short, plating Lofton with the first run of the game.
Hershiser allowed a leadoff homer to the Crime Dog, Fred McGriff to lead off the bottom of the seventh. But the game played out as a pitcher's duel mostly. Heading into the seventh, the Tribe had just one other baserunner, a Jim Thome single to left in the fifth. Hershiser was almost as stingy, allowing two singles (one eased on line out double play) and a walk.
But something happened to Hershiser in the seventh as he walked McGriff on a full count and David Justice on four pitches to start things. Paul Assenmacher came on to face Ryan Klesko, but Bobby Cox pinch hit with Mike Devereaux. Assenmacher was too fine and walked the bases loaded. Hargrove got Julian Tavarez into the game and pinch hitter Luis Polonia hit a grounder to short, where Vizquel forced Devereaux, but McGriff scored. Belliard then sacrificed to score Justice making it 3-1 which would prove beneficial. Maddux grounded out to end the inning.
Maddux had a perfect eighth and then Tavarez and Alan Embree finished off the Braves in their half, with Mark Lemke the lone guy on base via a Tavarez walk. Maddux came back out for the top of the ninth. Paul Sorrento grounded out and then Lofton singled to left. Vizquel grounded to Lemke at second and was retired. But Lofton used his speed to take third and then scored as McGriff's throw got past Pendleton to slice it to one run. But Maddux retired Baerga on a foul pop up to end the game. Maddux did not get an official "Maddux JLTM" as the Tribe scored two unearned runs, but he did complete the game on just 95 pitches. Both teams spent a kot time heading back to the dugout as they combined for five hits, five walks (all by Cleveland) and 13 strikeouts.
October 22, 1995; Atlanta Fulton County Stadium; Braves 4, Indians 3
Martinez did get the nod in Game Two, facing lefty Tom Glavine. And again, the Indians got an early lead. After Albert Belle opened the second with a single to right, Eddie Murray deposited one over the left field wall for a quick 2-0 lead. But the Braves tied it in the third. Marquis Grissom was hit by a 2-2 pitch and took second when Lemke singled to center. Martined picked off Grissom but his errant throw moved Grissom to third instead. Chipper Jones lined to Belle, scoring Grissom. Then McGriff's grounder to Baerga moved Lemke to second where he promptly scored on a Justice single.
The Tribe left a pair of runners on in both the fourth and fifth frames. Justice led off the sixth with a single to left and went to second as Belle bobbled it. After moving to third on a Klesko grounder, Javy Lopez lined a homer to make it 4-2.
In the seventh, aftet Tony Pena grounded out and pinch hitter Wayne Kirby struck out, Lofton was once again the catalyst. He singled to right and swiped second. Vizquel hit a liner to left that Klesko misplayed, scoring Lofton. Greg McMichael uncorked a wild pitch on ball four to Baerga to make it first and third. But Alejandro Pena induce Belle to pop out behind the plate.
Jim Poole and Tavarez were perfect in the seventh and eighth. It was up to the offense to tie it up. In the eighth, Manny Ramirez singles to center and then was picked off first by Lopez. That would hurt as Thome walked. But closer Mark Wohlers came in and Sorrento flew out to Grissom. In the ninth, Wohlers struck out pinch hitter Ruben Amaro and retired pest Lofton on a weak grounder to third. But Vizquel got an infield single and stole second to get into scoring position. But Baerga popped out to Terry Pendleton to end the game.
October 24, 1995; Jacobs Field; Indians 7, Braves 6 (11 innings)
After a travel day, and facing a two game deficit, Hargrove asked Charles Nagy to stop the bleeding against John Smoltz. And for the third straight game, the visiting team opened the scoring. With two out in the first Jones doubled and scored when McGriff singled to right. But the offense struck right back. Lofton hit one up the middle and then Vizquel tripled to right. Baerga, Belle and Murray all struck out, with Vizquel scoring on Baerga's.
The Indians took the lead in the third. Lofton doubled and then Vizquel bunted for a single. Baerga singled in Lofton and Belle did the same for Vizquel. Murray struck out, but Thome walked, loading the bags and chasing Smoltz. But reliever Brad Clontz got Ramirez to hit into a rally killing double play.
It stayed 4-2 until McGriff connected for a solo shot in the sixth. And then Klesko also tagged Nagy in the seventh, slicing one more off the lead. In the seventh, Lofton worked a one out walk from Kent Mercker and moved to second on Vizquels grounder, After he stole third, he scored an insurance run on a Baerga single to short.
So with a two run lead, the Indians went to the eighth with a full and rested bullpen. But Hargrove opted to keep Nagy in the game as his pitch count was around 80. That would prove detrimental. Grissom doubled down the right field line and scored on a Polonia single to right. Assenmacher came in and walked Jones after Polonia stole second. He retired McGriff on a deep fly to center, moving both runners up. Justice hit a grounder to Baerga who booted it tying the game. In came Taverez. Devereaux pinch hot for Klesko and singled, giving the Braves their first lead of the night. Thankfully Lopez hit into a double play to end the inning.
Now behind and in danger of falling behind three games to none, the offense had to respond. Thome popped out against McMichael, but Ramirez walked and Sorrento singled him to third. One again, Cox went to Wohlers early. This time he didn't succeed. Sandy Alomar hit the first pitch for an RBI double, moving pinch runner Kirby to third. After Lofton was given first, Wohlers struck out and Vizquel and got Baerga to ground out. The game was tied, but a huge opportunity was lost.
Jose Mesa made his first appearance and pitched around a leadoff walk by Lemke. Mike Mordecai sacrificed him over, but Grissom struck out swinging. Polonia walked and Jones grounded to Herb Perry at first. Wohlers had a 1-2-3 ninth.
Mesa again worked around a leadoff single by McGriff in the tenth and amazingly enough Wohlers came out for his third inning. He walked Ramirez but struck out Perry. Ramirez stole second and went to third on Alomar's grounder to second. Lofton was given another free base, but Vizquel couldn't come through.
Mesa, like Wohlers came out for a third frame in the eleventh, and once again dodged a leadoff single, this time with a double play grounder. Alejandro Pena took over for Wohlers and Baerga finally tagged one, doubling to the alley in right. Alvaro Espinosa ran for Baerga and Belle was given first for free. Murray singled up the middle, scoring Espinosa, and ensuring that I would get to attend Game Five in Cleveland.
Next Up: The Indians try to come back in the series.